Molly Duffy, member of the STAP (Sidewalks, Trails & Path) Committee looks at the recent Board of Supervisor decision in a different light. What does this decision say to its residents about the future walkability of our community? The STAP Committee thought that the supervisors shared their vision for a walking, biking landscape, but do they? Below is Molly’s letter to the editor that appears in this weeks edition the Main Line Suburban Life newspaper.
Tredyffrin supervisors missing the big picture
To the Editor:
Five years ago a handful of concerned Tredyffrin residents got together to talk about how we could make the township more walkable and bikable. The township agreed that this was a worthy goal. After all, 78.5 percent of residents who responded to the 2004 Parks Recreation and Open Space survey stated that they would be likely to use an interconnected townshipwide trail system in Tredyffrin designed for pedestrian, runners, skaters and bikers.
Later in 2005 the Board of Supervisors formally created the STAP (Sidewalks Trails and Paths) Committee and charged it with the mission of identifying priority trail and sidewalk areas, determining appropriate trail and sidewalk types, and researching funding options. This very committed and energized group of volunteers did just that. The township’s Green Routes Network can be viewed at www.tredyffrin.org. As a member of STAP I’m proud to say that our highest-priority sidewalk project will be under construction within a few months. New sidewalks will connect T/E Middle School, Conestoga High School, Daylesford Train Station, the YMCA, the Easttown Library and the village of Berwyn. Residents will no longer have to walk on the road and risk their lives to get to any of these locations, and the school district may be able to eliminate the cost of operating a few buses. Because of the dedication of STAP and the township’s very talented and effective staff, the township received a $2.8-million grant that will pay for this project. If STAP and the Board of Supervisors had not had the vision and patience to move ahead with this project, it would not have been shovel-ready and consequently it would not have received ARRA grant funds.
The Board of Supervisors’ Jan. 25, 2010 vote to forgive St. Davids Golf Club’s obligation to build a path along Upper Gulph Road, which is part of the Green Routes Network, makes me wonder if the township still cares about its future.
Transforming Tredyffrin, largely developed in the car-centric 1950s and 1960s, into a walkable, bikable community is no small task. A best-case scenario estimate would put completion of the Green Routes Network at 15 years. Nevertheless it is a task we must complete if we want Tredyffrin to be a place where people want to live and work in the future. Yes, it will cost something. Perhaps it will be grant-funded. Perhaps it will not. Regardless, it is a wise investment in our future.
It is standard practice for new developments in Tredyffrin and elsewhere to include sidewalks in their plans. For many reasons people don’t want to rely on their cars to take them every place they need to go. People of all ages call Tredyffrin home. Many are too young to drive, some are unable to drive, and many more just want another option for getting from here to there. The ability to walk to school, church, work, the library, the dentist’s office or shopping gives us all, young and old, a sense of independence and some decent exercise.
The Green Routes Network will never include every street in the township. Instead it strives to connect residents to popular destinations. In the next few years, the Chester Valley Trail will cross our township on its way from Downingtown to Valley Forge. If we plan proper linkages, many Tredyffrin residents will be able to safely walk or bike to the trail from their front doors.
Recently the national news has focused on studies showing that while real-estate values have dropped, homes with a high walkability score have dropped much less. It is becoming standard for real-estate listings to show a home’s “walk score” because many homebuyers want to be able to walk or bike to a destination. You can find your home’s walk score at www.walkscore.com.
If we don’t begin to implement the Green Routes Network that the board of supervisors recently approved in the updated Comprehensive Plan and reaffirmed in the Green Tredyffrin Resolution, we’re taking a step backwards and depriving our children and grandchildren of a livable, desirable community.
Molly Duffy, Paoli